Some 27 Russian diplomats and their families were expelled from the US and would leave on January 30, according to the Russia’s ambassador to the US.
“Our diplomats are being expelled…A large group of my comrades, 27 people with families, will leave us on January 30… We are facing a serious staff shortage,” Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a video interview for the Soloviev Live Youtube channel aired late on Saturday.
The decision comes during a period of heightened political tensions, with the US imposing sanctions in connection with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline earlier this week – targeting two vessels and the Russia-linked company Transadria.
The US opposes the $11 billion pipeline, which it believes will make Europe too reliant on Russian gas.
The pipeline will double overall supplies travelling from Russia to Germany, while Europe already depends on Europe for a third of its gas – with fears of blackouts as the continent suffers from reduced storage capabilities, skyrocketing prices, and a colder-than-normal winter.
Russia has previously claimed over 100 of its diplomats with families had been forced to leave the United States since 2016 when the relationship between both countries deteriorated.
President Joe Biden’s administration recently revealed the size of its diplomatic staff in Russia had shrunk to 120 from 1,200 in early 2017 after a series of expulsions and restrictions.
In late October, nearly 200 Russian diplomats were still in their jobs in the United States, included the staff of the Russian mission to the United Nations, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
This year, the US Embassy in Moscow stopped processing non-diplomatic visas this year and added Russians to a list of “homeless nationals” who can apply for visas in third countries.